Katherine Cunningham and Jacob Gonzales

Katherine Cunningham and Jacob Gonzales

Missing man in Camano beheading case charged with murder

The charge stems from blood and DNA found on a samurai sword in the victim’s car, the prosecutor said.

CAMANO ISLAND — Island County Prosecutor Gregory Banks announced Friday that he has charged a former Camano Island man with murder in the death of his girlfriend, whose body was found in March.

Jacob Gonzales, 33, remains at large. He is suspected of killing Katherine Cunningham, stealing her Honda Civic and fleeing to his home state of California in mid-February. Her body was found March 3. By then, he was long gone.

Cunningham was 26. A neighbor discovered her body on a parcel of wooded land off Tamarack Lane. She had been beheaded, wrapped in a sleeping bag and left in a Red Flyer wagon.

Her car was abandoned a few miles north of Yreka, California, on Feb. 16.

Gonzales has a $1 million warrant out for his arrest. He’s also wanted for car theft and unlawful possession of five guns.

Banks added the murder charge Thursday after getting results from forensic testing.

“A samurai sword had been recovered from the trunk of Ms. Cunningham’s stolen car … ” Banks said in a news release. “On Wednesday, June 27, we received results of DNA and biological testing on the sword. Those lab results indicate that Ms. Cunningham’s blood was on the blade of the sword, and Mr. Gonzales’ DNA was on the hilt.”

Gonzales is the subject of a nationwide search. If convicted of second-degree domestic violence murder, he could receive a sentence of up to 28 years in prison.

A neighbor described Gonzales, 33, as a “bunker nut” who wanted to live “off the grid,” charging papers said.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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